In 1964, Freedom Schools were established aiming to offer a culturally relevant curriculum to Black students and to empower them. Students studied "race" relations, inequality, African American history and literature, critically studied what it meant to be a black US-American during the Civil Rigths Movement. Providing critical information meant that students could realise that education was the door to greater political freedom as it was also required for voting rights (Watson, n.d.).
In Mississippi, per capita expenditure of school boards was four times higher for white children than for black children.Teachers did not cover controversial topics as they would have lost their jobs. Additional schools were needed, schools in which questioning was the vital tool, Freedom Schools.
Freedom Schools were popular, twice as many students took part than expected. Classes were usually held in churches or outdoor. Not only did they enhance critical thinking, other subjects (e.g. foreign languages) were supposed to help students transition to higher education after completing high school (via).
Photograph: The Freedom Summer, volunteers arrive in Hattiesburg, MS, the "Mecca of the Freedom School world" (via)
Photograph: The July 4th, 1964 picnic at Vernon Dahmer's farm welcomed Freedom Summer volunteers to Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
Photograph: Vernon Dahmer (1908-1966), pictured wearing a hat, is the Hattiesburg activist who hosted the July 4th picnic.
He was murdered two years after the Freedom Summer by members of the Ku Klux Klan.
Photograph: Freedom School Mississippi Project, 1964, a volunteer teaching science class to students, photo credit: Matt Herron
Photograph: Freedom School student Cynthia Perteet (left) and volunteer Beth More (right) in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, during Freedom Summer, 1964. More was a teacher in the Freedom School hosted by Mt. Zion Baptist Church.
Photograph: Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee field secretary Sandy Leigh (New York City), director of the Hattiesburg project, lectures Freedom School students in the sanctuary of True Light Baptist Church.
Photograph: Volunteer William D. Jones (native of Birmingham, Alabama, and New York public school teacher) who taught in the Freedom School at True Light Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, leans on the stair rail of St. John United Methodist Church in Palmers Crossing talking with local child Tilton Sullivan.
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- Watson, M. (n.d.). Freedom Schools Then and Now: A Transformative Approach to Learning, 170-190, link
- photographs and their descriptions via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via and via